With 20+ years of plumbing experience, Derek Thornburg (43), has stories for days. He has never met a stranger and his anecdotes are a constant source of laughter and knowledge for our team and customers alike – which is probably why we bonded that June morning at Cracker Barrel.
Derek and I met on June 28, 2019 at the Cracker Barrel on Billy Graham Parkway in Gastonia, NC. At the time, I was a young ZoomUP entrepreneur looking for a partner to launch a modernized plumbing business in the Greater Charlotte Area. Finding a reputable licensed plumber takes time and patience. The volume of plumbers in America has dwindled over the years with the current age of the average plumber being 56. Demand for plumbers and fitters is strong. The number of plumbers employed is expected to grow 14% percent by 2028, versus 5% percent across all occupations, according to Labor Bureau statistics.
Fortunately, Scott Simmons of Greenway Waste Solutions called me one day and said, “I’ve got your plumber… he is a little country, but he’s your guy!”
A little country was correct as fate and fried food brought us together, but really what sealed the deal was Derek’s story. When Derek was 15 years old, he dropped out of high school and went right into the plumbing field. His cousin, the owner of Plumbing Connection in Gastonia was the first to teach him the trade. Like most plumbers, Derek bounced around from company to company during his early plumbing days before launching his own business in the early 2000s. Derek obtained a P1 Plumbing License, his company completed projects of many shapes and sizes.
Derek has built his career from apprenticeship, hard work, and a great attitude which has led him to become owner and partner of Ease Plumbing. It’s our mission to provide the same opportunity for the next generation of plumbers. At Ease Plumbing, we give plumbers and young leaders the opportunity to learn a trade from the best in field through apprenticeship and work hard to ultimately provide equity opportunities. We want the next generation of plumbers to become owners and partners alongside us.
#ThePinkPlumber is Ease’s way of giving back and memorializes my Aunt Tina who passed away with cancer in 2012. Derek has the joy my Aunt Tina carried and I’m proud to call him my partner in Ease Plumbing. We call him Derek, but if you pass a bright pink truck on I-77 these days, you’ll see him on the side of the truck as #ThePinkPlumber. For every picture posted of #ThePinkPlumber truck on Facebook which tags @EasePlumbing, we will donate $10 to Susan G Komen for Breast Cancer Research.
Derek (Left), Austin (Right)
Partner, Ease Plumbing